11 March 2010


Peregrine expands with European RFIC design, manufacturing and sales center

Peregrine Semiconductor Corp of San Diego, CA, USA, which designs and manufactures RF CMOS and mixed-signal communications ICs based on its UltraCMOS silicon-on-sapphire (SOS) technology, has expanded its European design and manufacturing operations by opening a new facility in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Operating as a subsidiary under the direction of Pascal LeBohec, Peregrine Semiconductor Europe (PSE) incorporates RFIC design and engineering at the design center in Aix-en-Provence; IC wafer manufacturing from wafer foundry Sapphicon in Australia and UMC in Taiwan; assembly & packaging from Hybritech Composants Microelectroniques (HCM) France; and back-end testing at partner Rood Microtec in Germany. PSE’s activities will focus on developing new RFIC products of European content to better support specific European design requirements, as well as providing design services for Peregrine’s proprietary next-generation UltraCMOS RFIC portfolio sold worldwide.

The region has been instrumental to global adoption of UltraCMOS for RF designs, comments Peregrine Semiconductor Corp’s CEO & president Jim Cable. “In a time of widespread economic turmoil, Peregrine is among the exceptions in being able to post positive revenue growth and expand our design and manufacturing capabilities to further demonstrate our commitment to the European RF engineering community,” he adds.

As well as heading PSE, LeBohec also manages international sales for Peregrine’s high-reliability IC business, which originated more than a dozen years ago and has customers such as Astrium, Thales Alenia Space, and Tesat and RUAG — all member companies of the European Space Agency (ESA), which has qualifying Peregrine’s UltraCMOS-based phase-locked loop frequency synthesizers (PLLs) for adoption into its space satellite programs. Peregrine devices are currently in flight with some of the world’s largest satellite programs, including Globalstar, ExoMars, Glonass and Gallileo. “Some of the world’s most visionary RF designs originate in Europe, and Peregrine’s UltraCMOS technology provides the ideal RF front-end solution,” comments LeBohec.

The first devices originating from the new European operation are next-generation PLLs providing the RF performance demanded by the rigors of rad-hard space and other high-reliability applications. Peregrine adds that there are fundamental properties of UltraCMOS technology that make it exceptionally ‘green’: devices built on UltraCMOS consume much less power than high-voltage processes such as silicon-germanium (SiGe) or gallium arsenide (GaAs), it is claimed, and enable high levels of monolithic integration, resulting in smaller die, fewer external components in the design and less environmental waste. In particular, while Reduction of Hazardous Substance (RoHS) initiatives across Europe are pressing the prohibition of carcinogens such as GaAs and associated arsenic slurries, UltraCMOS RFICs — based on sapphire substrates — offer a more environmentally friendly option, it is claimed.

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